FRINGE 2013: Music – Suicide Songs for the Ukulele – Grace Emily Hotel – 4K

High above a rather cramped looking stage at the Grace Emily, a ukulele hangs in a noose. It’s an oddly beautiful sight and that feeling reflects the content of the show to come. The clue is in the title really: this is an evening of tunes that are about suicide – or aren’t actually about suicide but people think they are – all delivered, at least in part, on the ukulele.

Simon Peter has assembled a mix of talented musicians to perform these songs and the range of artists covered is wide – from Billie Holiday through to Eminem. While Peter takes on the lead vocals for most numbers, the supporting singers provide beautiful harmonies and several special guests also sing a piece throughout the set, providing nice variety.

This is a very relaxed show. There is no specified seating; you just find a spot on the floor or leaning against a wall. The performers seem to be having a good time and transitions between songs are filled with joking and mucking around while the requisite people take to the stage. In terms of musical quality, there are no weak links.

While for the most part the night is light-hearted and focuses more on the ubiquitousness of the topic in music rather than the intensity of the subject matter, the serious side is given its dues near the end with a speech from someone who has personal experience in the area. It’s good that this was addressed but it also went on longer than felt necessary, and having it so close to the end meant that the final feeling around the show was heavier than might have been intended. Perhaps slipping this in a little earlier would still have highlighted the importance of acknowledging, talking about and addressing suicide but also allowed the audience to leave on more of an up.

Kryztoff Rating: 4K

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